Of all the delicious fruits on God’s green earth, there is one that rises to the top of my “I-sure-hope-we-have-these-in-heaven list.” To me there is nothing quite like the blackberry. These tasty morsels are a sublime treat to my palette.
I can vividly remember sitting on the porch at my Granny’s house near Maytoy, Okla. (you won’t find it on the map anymore) eating a big bowl of blackberries with a sprinkling of sugar. Once I ate all the berries, this boy would raise the bowl to his lips and drain the berry juice. M-m-m good! I know it’s not good manners but think of the total injustice of leaving the juice to the flies instead of finishing it off.
Blackberries are a delicious fruit but they can also seriously stain your clothes or your body. My dad tells of the time, in the early 40’s, when he and his brothers were to ride the train to California. While waiting on the train, they had America’s first paintball war. Only paintballs were not invented yet. So, the brothers armed themselves with blackberries. They loaded the berries in their slingshots and fired at one another. Dad says the green ones really hurt and the ripe berries would splat seeds and squirt juice on anything or anyone standing nearby.
After several barrages, the brothers and a few others caught in the crossfire were marked by blackberry stains on their clothes and any portion of exposed skin. When my Grandmother Yeats gathered her clan for boarding the train, she was not in the least interested in who won the blackberry war. She was infuriated that her once-upon-a-time clean youngins were indelibly stained with blackberries.
Only time and serious scrubbing would remove the blackberry stain. Some of the clothes were stained for keeps.
However, there is a stain worse than blackberry. You might think of several things that could stain clothes, skin or carpet. How about a stain, not on a person’s skin, but in a person’s life?
In Ken Hemphill’s The Names of God, he shares about Jehovah Mekadish. This name of God means the Lord who sanctifies you (Lev. 20:8). As with other Hebrew names of God, there is a message in the meaning. The God who can sanctify is the God who Himself is the standard of holiness.
Hemphill writes, “The fact that God is holy means that those who relate to Him must be cleansed of their sin. Yet, because we have a sin nature, we (humanity) know that we cannot of ourselves live a holy existence. Sanctified holiness means that we must come to participate in the nature of God Himself.”
The old stain of sin is a plague impacting people’s lives. Our culture has done its very best to deny the cancerous, corruptible nature inherited from the first of our race created by God. The defectiveness of sin, while not present in our physiological genetic coding, continues to stain the lives of people and generations throughout human history. Apart from our Lord’s mercy and grace, the self-centeredness and base-thinking human nature would annihilate the race of man in short order.
Some have attempted to bury the idea that all people inherit the nature of sin beneath philosophical platitudes about the inherent goodness of man and the goal of a digitally-enhanced, brotherhood-for-all-mankind utopia. Such a mindset is void of biblical understanding.
After all, name me a parent who must teach their child to lie? Instructions are not necessary. Not telling the truth or telling a half-truth is simply part of the composition of the old nature or our old flesh that refuses to accept the work of God in a believer’s life.
There are those who think the days of absolutes and moral parameters are passé. The prevailing thinking in some circles is that humans can rule their own moral destinies by consensus or democratic vote. They think that if we don’t like the tried-and-true absolutes of God’s Word, then we will take a vote and the biblical standard of right living is dissolved. We must not forget that God, the Holy One, does not check with man’s opinion when establishing His standard.
Hemphill points out that “a system that bases moral values on consensus has no absolutes. Values change on the whim of the public. If we follow the implications of such a system to their logical ends, no one would have the right to be outraged about the treatment of the Jews by Adolf Hitler because the consensus feeling at the time seemed to support Hitler’s notion that the Jews could be annihilated as non-persons. Only in a society based on absolute values about the worth of every human being, can such atrocities be avoided.”
There is only one way to remove the stain of sin from the lives of people. That method is repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ whose shed blood is the cure for the sin stain that destroys so many lives.
When you chomp down on one of those God-created, tasty blackberries, give thanks to the Lord Jesus for His cleansing. Invite Him to search out every vestige of the old human nature. Yield to Him in fresh repentance and experience the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit (Col.2:6). Such action could be the necessary beginnings for spiritual revival.